No need to panic, most deaths were natural, forest official says
According to the 2015 census, Karnataka has more than 406 tigers in the wild - 221 of them in Bandipur and Nagarahole national parks. DH FILE PHOTO
The year 2016 was one of the worst for tigers in Karnataka as the state lost 18 of them to poaching, poisoning and natural causes. The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), which records deaths and seizure of tiger parts in the country, has reported on the website (http://www.tigernet.nic.in/) that India lost at least 97 tigers in the wild in 2016— the worst in the last seven years. Madhya Pradesh (30) saw the most tiger deaths this year, followed by Karnataka (18) and Maharashtra (15).
Karnataka has lost 75 tigers since 2010, with 2016 being the worst followed by 2013 (15 deaths), 2012 (12) and 2015 (11). Out of the 18 tiger deaths, the actual cause of mortality is yet to be determined in eight cases. While a tiger was “poached” (none of its parts was removed) in Bandipur’s Maddur region on August 13, 2016, two tigers were poisoned near Umdlebylu village in Bhadravathi on December 8. Four tigers died a natural death while three big cats died in territorial fights. On August 3, 2016, three tigers died in the Nagarahole National Park; the cause of death is still unclear.
According to the 2015 census, Karnataka has more than 406 tigers in the wild — 221 of them in Bandipur and Nagarahole national parks. The two national parks also lost the most number of tigers in 2016. While Nagarahole saw 12 tiger deaths, Bandipur lost four of them.
Forest Department officials contend that most of the tiger deaths in 2016 were natural. “There is no need to press the panic button about tiger deaths as most of the fatalities were natural,” Assistant Chief Conservator of Forests C Jayaram said. Except for a poaching case in Bandipur and the poisoning of two tigers in Bhadravathi, all other tigers died either of old age or from injuries sustained in territorial fights, which is a common phenomenon in the jungle, he said. But that doesn’t mean that the department is doing nothing to protect the tigers, he added.
‘Farmers poisoned tigers’
The Forest Department suspects that farmers poisoned two tigers at Umdlebylu to protect their cattle from being devoured by the big cats. “We are creating awareness among people on tiger conservation and asking them not to harm them,” Jayaram said. The government has increased the compensation from Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000 for each cattle death caused by wild animals, he said.